A conveyancing clerk who created two emails purportedly from a client has received the biggest fine the Solicitors Regulation Authority has slapped on a law firm employee thanks to his former employer's alternative business structure status.
Graham Borley, of Claughton, Wirral, received a written rebuke and was ordered to pay a £7,500 financial penalty. He has also been banned from working in the legal profession without the regulator’s permission.
Currently, the SRA has the power to fine firms and individuals up to a maximum of £2,000, with any regulatory breach that requires a higher penalty sent to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
The limit on fines for ABSs is currently £50m for individuals and £250m for firms.
A decision published on the SRA’s website on Friday states that Borley worked in the property department at Morecrofts, Liverpool, between June 2009 and November 2014 when the firm reported him to the SRA.
During his employment, Borley was found to have created two emails which were purportedly from a client.
‘These emails had the potential to cause loss to this client as they purported to give instructions to the firm to use part of the funds held for this client to settle sums due on other matters that were unconnected with this client,’ the decision states.
‘It was found that Mr Borley took steps to conceal his actions and that his conduct misled the firm’s finance partner.’
’It was found that Mr Borley’s conduct was dishonest and that his actions also breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA principles.’
Borley was given a written rebuke and ordered to pay a financial penalty of £7,500. He was also ordered to pay the SRA’s costs of £1,350 in investigating the matter.
The decision states that Borley’s current practising details are unknown.
The SRA made a section 43 order (control of non-qualified staff), saying it would be undesirable for Borley to be involved in a legal practice in any of the ways described in its decision, except in accordance with the regulator’s permission.
Morecrofts managing partner Alison Lobb, on behalf of the firm, told the Gazette: ’Morecrofts have very strict supervisory procedures which enabled us to immediately identify and report Mr Borley’s behaviour to the SRA. His employment with the firm was terminated.
’The SRA have thanked us for reporting him and assisting them throughout this investigation.’